The Hong Kong season has hardly begun, but is expected to claim its first casualty today when Australian rider Danny Nikolic is released from his club riding contract.
An Australian source close to the jockey said yesterday the lack of support for Nikolic was not the sole reason for his desire to leave after having just three rides on opening day. He was not paid up for any mounts tomorrow night at Happy Valley.
'Danny's wife, Victoria, will soon be having their first child and I think they have decided they would prefer to be back living in Australia when that happens,' the source said. 'The lack of rides is only part of the reason.'
It is known that Nikolic, 33, has been disappointed with the level of interest shown by owners and trainers since his return to Sha Tin last month.
Nevertheless, that was a tough road which Nikolic had trod manfully last year when opportunities were also scarce early in the season, so had his departure been on that basis alone it might have been regarded as surprising.
After a slow start in 2006-07, Nikolic rode 27 winners to finish 11th on the championship, with the highlight his five-win association with Sacred Kingdom, trained by Ricky Yiu Poon-fie.
Connections are understood to have been unhappy with Nikolic's ride when Sacred Kingdom was beaten at long odds-on by Medic Power in May, and announced last week that Gerald Mosse would replace Nikolic this season.
Neither Nikolic nor the Hong Kong Jockey Club would comment last night.